C'est La Vie OOC - August 4th, 2008
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User: [info]la_vie_ooc (posted by [info]heil_hans)
Date: 2008-08-04 23:36
Subject: German Surnames
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German surnames from Müller to Keller

The list that follows ranks the 50 most common family names in Germany. It was produced by surveying names found in German telephone books. Attached is the English meaning for each name. The most common German surname is Müller, which means "miller" - it points to their actual occupation. Keller on the other hand belongs to a class of names derived from WHERE someone worked, in this case, possibly a Ratskeller (cellar pub/restaurant) or Weinkeller (wine cellar). Names and their sources can be a tricky thing as they go so far back in Europe. On this list you find likely meanings/orgins of the most common ones.

Generally speaking, most names were based on

- occupations/social status
- location
- a person's physical characteristics

NOTE: German names that include "von" may indicate a member of (former) nobility, like the French "de" or the Dutch "van". At certain times and places, it was illegal for anyone who was not a member of aristocracy to use "von" before their family name. Therefore: Chances are that the person who has it in their name now was somehow related to this social class. (In the Middle Ages the "von" particle was still a common part of names and was widely used also by commoners, e.g. "Hans von Duisburg" meant Hans from [the city of] Duisburg.)


The 50 Most-Common German Last Names
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